With growing fears about Iran and North Korea’s nuclear programs, conventional wisdom holds that the nonproliferation regime is on the verge of collapse. The upcoming 2010 Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) Review Conference is an opportunity to strengthen the regime, but it is in danger of being overloaded by expectations.

Deepti Choubey identifies achievable goals for the Review Conference and outlines steps that nuclear-weapon states—including recommendations tailored for the United States—and non–nuclear-weapon states should take to avert failure.


  • All states should recognize that restoring the NPT is a joint endeavor—each state’s security is affected by the outcome of nonproliferation efforts, so all states have a stake in fixing problems. States must raise the political profile of the Review Conference and engage NGOs that can provide expertise and create accountability.
  • The United States should secure domestic and international support for its agenda to reduce and eliminate nuclear dangers by demonstrating how all of the elements of that agenda are mutually reinforcing and imperative. The United States must reconcile its Nuclear Posture Review with its NPT commitments.
  • Non–nuclear-weapon states should seize the window of opportunity opened by President Obama’s forward-leaning leadership. These states must reconcile policy inconsistencies, choose friends wisely, and plan for the future by anticipating what progress on disarmament will mean for them. 

“Averting failure and achieving some modest success at the 2010 NPT Review Conference will require action by all states—nuclear-weapon states and non-nuclear-weapon states alike,” says Choubey. “Although ambitious steps are welcome, small steps will do.”